Two weeks ago I noted the passing of 113-year-old Henry Allingham, who, besides being the oldest man on Earth, was also the last founding member of the Royal Air Force and one of the last five veterans of "the war to end all wars" still living. At that time I mentioned that the four WWI vets who survived him were John Babcock, who was still in training with the Canadian Army in Britain by Armistice Day and never saw combat; Frank Buckles, the last American vet who was a teenage ambulance driver on the Western Front in 1918; Claude Choules, who served in the British Navy and later moved to Australia, where he served in WWII; and Harry Patch, the last person to have witnessed up-close the horrors of trench warfare (as he did during the Third Battle of Ypres in which over a half-million men died in a few months in 1917).
Last Saturday, Harry Patch died at the age of 111. Like Allingham, he never spoke of the war until he became a centenarian and realized that he wanted to remind those living in the new millennium of the sacrifices made by his comrades so long ago. The Associated Press issued an obituary which had its more graphic paragraphs cut by a number of newspapers, but which gives, when read in full, a good idea of why he said, time and again, that "those who led us to war should have been handed the guns and told to go and settle their differences among themselves."